Archives for posts with tag: change

(Oh, isn’t that wishful thinking.)

I was clicking back through my posts sort of mindlessly checking whether I use categories or tags when I had that moment that Snoopy has, where he’s wandered into the tall grass and he tries to play it cool, so cool, but he really wants to turn tail and run like a squawking chicken back to safety. I had stumbled upon my own grief.

And damn my blood for knowing how to write it, too, because I remember the way the sentences translated into the real world. I remember hating Fridays. I remember eating clementines. I remember how easily I remembered so many details from Dad’s last few weeks, remembered them like they were needlepointed to the insides of my eyelids.

It’s weird how the last ten months have changed me. I’ve been slowly but perceptively recovering in the ways you can recover (I don’t hate Fridays anymore) and also learning to recognize the swathes that are just permanently altered. I’ve been in therapy, which is just great – people, it’s great, you should try it – but it’s always surprising to me that it’s not always about my dad. It’s always surprising that the rest of my personality has withstood the gale force winds that blew.

But I’m also still so easily shocked into earlier states. I have this little problem where I wince when I meet the eyes of the very old or infirm. I feel like a grade A asshole but it hurts somehow, somewhere that isn’t all that healed actually, to see rheumy eyes and papery skin or watch a hand tremble on the subway. I want to fling myself against a window like a heart-thumping little bird to get out, away, out. It’s jarring how completely sub-conscious this reaction is. Sorry, old people. I’m usually not this weird.

Also I hate the sight of those auto-hand-sanitizers.

Grief is weird.

The thing I’m left with is so much more universal than what I had before. What I had before (amongst many other blessings) was this brilliantly unique relationship with this utterly brilliant human being that just happened to be my father, and happened to like me a lot, with whom I happened to have a ton of personality in common. What I have now is grief, plain and simple, dressing on the side. It’s not even wild grief with unresolved crunchy bits and fugue states. It’s manageable, but it has robbed me of something. I am a girl who has lost her father. Look around – there are a ton of us! You might even be one! Do you know what was better? Having a father.

So that’s where I am. Simultaneously marveling at the efficiency of my psychic organs, which always seem to know what I need when I need it (now: stay busy! now: pamper yourself! now: sad movie for release valve! I am a well-oiled machine!) and frustrated with my loss, with the misplacement of this unique and brilliant relationship. Like it was my fault!

We are these mighty creatures, I guess, if we don’t spend too much time staring at the little holes in the fabric of our superhero capes.

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gift

For my thirtieth birthday, amongst other things, Stuart had this bracelet made for me. He asked the designer to put 808.02 on there. It’s the Dewey Decimal Classification number for style manuals. Actually, 808.02 is the DDC for “authorship and editorial techniques,” and 808.027, “editorial techniques,” is where cataloguers are instructed to class style manuals, but that was getting excessively clunky (and I had to log into OCLC Connexion to find that out) so 808.02 it is.

I asked, upon opening the gift, what the DDC number was for. So sue me, I knew the 800 class is literature! That’s more than most people who aren’t librarians or sixth graders could tell you. Stuart said, “it’s for style manuals. Because you’re so stylish.” He’s just being nice – it’s also because I love rules. I love grammar. I love the way different organizations or cultures have sprung up around the correct way to create a bibliography, and why. How for different applications, there are different ways of organizing information and displaying it. There’s a good reason why I love library science. It’s because I love order.

This is one of those teachable moments, realizing how much I love order and organization. I’m thirty now! It’s okay to be obsessed with taxonomies! That’s just who I am! Another thing I am is a woman in her thirties, starting to think about family. And babies. Ohhhh, the kicking ovaries. Ladies, you tried to warn me.

I’ve been stymied as to why a woman already aware of her desire to start a family would suddenly FLIP A SWITCH just because of a birthday. And it’s not, to clarify, that we’re going to have a baby tomorrow. The dog and the graduate degree are enough for me right now. But what’s the difference between spending all of my twenties happily, calmly aware that I was going to have children someday, and turning thirty, where I can’t even look at pictures of my friends’ babies without getting all broody and making funny faces at Stuart? (Although, have you met Esme? You’d want one too.) Seriously, the other day, I found myself cuddling Nano in a distinctly …. swaddling … manner. What! The! Eff!

But today, I was talking to my therapist and I hit on it. In my twenties, starting a family with Stuart was something I was going to do in my thirties. In a very rigid, time-centered way, it was Tomorrow. I wasn’t in my thirties! Oh, guess what. Now I am in my thirties, which means that clock is suddenly labeled Today. And while nothing else, empirically, has changed, everything has changed. This is the decade we’re going to do this … and here we are, in that decade. Someone get me a to-do list! (Don’t worry, that to-do list starts with: Finish Degree.)

Which goes back to my first point, stepping slowly away from all this Heavy Stuff (although feel free to empathize and extemporize on your own clock systems if you have them). I am 808.02! I am your friendly neighborhood organizer. But Stuart also pointed out, I could easily be Greek myths and legends, which would be 398.20938. What would you be, if you were a DDC number? You don’t have to be a library nerd to play along – give me a general category you think would work and I’ll see if I can’t tease out the right number for you. My nerdy expertise could be your new charm bracelet!

In two weeks, we will board a plane to Santa Fe for five days of vacation. We’ll do what we do best on vacation – I will obsessively read the travel guide and poll everyone I know for the best restaurants. Stuart will effortlessly learn the orientation of the city and navigate the transit options, and he’ll know when I’m twenty minutes exactly from full-bore hangry. For as much as I love the day-to-day of our lives together, I relish the chance to travel somewhere new with Stuart. Our best complementary attributes engage.

But I’m burying the lede. The day we travel westward is my thirtieth birthday. On August 31st, I’ll pass from my twenties into my thirties. Let’s take a moment here, shall we? Let’s eulogize this properly now.

My twenties were the least wild of all possible twenties. I remember a few truly debauched and distraught moments: having to stop for French fries at a diner on my way home from the Russian Samovar because I was too drunk to find the subway. A few ill-advised romantic choices, usually thanks to the Internet. Being sad but dry-eyed in the Port Authority watching a particularly fragile piece of my heart leave town.

But I remember some miracles, too. My first apartment, full of lazy brunches with the wittiest, most uproarious friends you can imagine. The feeling of looking out over the city from my 42nd story office window at 22 tender years of age, fearless and gutsy and happy. Knowing I hadn’t figured it out yet, but knowing I’d found the place and the people that would get me there in style.

And the best: finding Stuart.

And the worst: losing Dad.

I’m not particularly worried about neck cream and creaking bones and the loss of the excuse to shake my ass in clubs. I didn’t spend much of my earliest adulthood doing that anyway; I was too busy talking to these fascinating people I know and learning New York City like the back of my hand.

I will miss nothing about the last ten years except the person who made it so much better. But I gave him a 4.0 average in grad school and the sight of me happy, married, and his daughter through and through.

My thirties will bring me new facets of family – first, with Mom finding herself new paths in the world, and then, hopefully, new layers of family between Stuart and me and some unnamed zygotes (one day).

My thirties will bring a new career, one that I could not be more excited about. I am surprised it took me so long to realize that although writing is my first love, my great tool, that it is not my best-suited career. I am bloody thrilled to be joining the ranks of the world’s organizers, disseminators, knowledge finders and suppliers. Librarianship suits me like bespoke. I hope some day (perhaps I will be saying this as I go into my forties) to pass on the skills I’m learning and will learn, to get my PhD, and to do research and educate future librarians. Let’s get squee-ish for a second here: HOW COOL IS THAT?

My thirties will bring me more clarity about friendships and relationships. The lessons learned by fire for the past decade – be honest, be kind, don’t apologize too much, work hard for the people you love, be loyal, forgive – are already solidifying into canon. This feels good.

I have learned a lot about myself through the eyes of those who love me. I have figured out many of my best and worst impulses. I’ve learned to be proud of what I’m capable of, and I’m working on being at peace with my flaws. My thirties can hopefully be a time to focus more outward.

So Santa Fe will be a celebration and a page-turning. I will keep doing what I am doing because although life is not as perfect as it was before my dad died, it’s still pretty damn good and that’s okay.

I would love to hear you, blog friends, tell me about turning thirty. I’ll take it all to heart; there’s nothing I love more than research. Best thing? Worst thing? Most unexpected change? Thing you miss most from your twenties? Let’s hear it.

a girl and her dog

It’s been six long months since winter, since the worst and toughest days. I’d like to think – why is that in my nature, that I’d always like to think? – that there’s something I’ve learned here, that I’ve put my pencil down and finished the exam and now this is what I’ve learned.

But in truth, there’s little I’ve learned through winter into spring and now that we’ve tumbled into summer except that grief is a thing I will have to endure with as much grace as my reserves can muster. I have learned that it can be less often but not less potent. I have learned that I miss my dad no less today than I already did six months ago, the day he died. I have learned that because of our extraordinary bond, it’s okay that this part is the hardest, but that other parts are easier – the parts where I have no regrets and I know where I stood, which was in a place of real and abiding love. Where I still stand, actually.

I’ve learned who I can rely on to check on me a little more than usual, and who I have to forgive for being unable to cope with loss. I have learned that I can be tough and competent when I need to be, when Mom needs me to be, but that at home, with my tears buried into Stuart’s shoulders, I don’t need to be any kind of competent or tough, I can just be bereft if I want to be. I have learned that Stuart is my rock, well, I already knew that, but I know that without him I would have long ago needed a dive mask to get through the vale of tears.

And I learned that as the sun warmed our corner of the earth, I got through more days with more smiles, and now I’m doing better. I’m less irrational, I’m less afraid of the unknown, un-dad-approved future. I’m more vulnerable, still, I am still a delicate fucking flower compared to the Weimar tank I used to be, but I’m better. And now that it’s unbearably hot out, and I can’t remember how cold and frozen it was in December when I didn’t think the world would ever warm again, I can’t believe it’s been six months and the hardest six months, at that, and there isn’t anything to show for it. Not exactly.

through the trees

Hello! Guess what. I am twenty eight now! I know. Some things we did this weekend to celebrate include decorating our apartment in beautiful pink and red floofs and carnations, throwing a marvelous party for about thirty people, eating a delicious ice cream cake (I blew out most of the candles in one go!), drinking rather a lot of champagne, having delicious brunch and wandering around the village in the sunshine, seeing a movie in the afternoon, and eating Indian food.
Of course, I didn’t document essentially any of this because apparently I forgot that I always take pictures of everything. I KNOW! I’m just as dissapointed as you are – you’ll just have to trust me, it was fabulous. I did manage to take exactly one picture of my lovely party dress that I adore (okay, you can only see the neckline – just imagine that the rest flairs and flatters and is generally lovely), and one picture of our pink and red decorated living room (plus bonus dogs). Honestly! Someone’s going to take away my Flickr pro membership at this rate.
Nonetheless, even without photographic evidence, 28 has been awesome. I’m thinking it’s going to be a good year. Maybe it could see about scrounging up more of that ice cream cake.